Soccer, Sexism, USSF’S Huge [Hope] Solo Mess and A LOT of WTF

I have read and read and re-read pretty much everything written about this Hope Solo mess.  I have also read a lot written about domestic violence in the NFL and in sports in general.

Generally all the talking has proven to me is that very, very few people either involved in the decision-making or writing about it have any clue what the fuck they are talking about.  There is precious little discussion about the cycles of abuse, the toll it takes on families or why it exists in the first place.

To be clear, I have never been in a physically abusive relationship and got out of a couple emotionally abusive relationships pretty much unscathed or with minimal damage.   I have had a few close calls with some class-A DBags and suffered some sexual harassment and a sexual assault by a then boyfriend that left serious emotional scars, but thankfully not physical ones.  I have never been hit buy a guy that I was seeing or any other one for that matter.  I have never been in a physically abusive relationship by the grace of God and A LOT of luck and friends stepping in the line of fire so to speak.    Luckily, in my case relationships that could very easily end up there, I got out before it did.

Now back to the topic at hand… the never ending mess that is Hope Solo’s non-professional life.  I keep hearing this combination: Hope, Ray Rice, the question of why is SHE still playing, the false equivalency of male and female domestic violence and the idea that she is somehow different by virtue of gender    There are only a few people who know what happened in Hope Solo’s family’s kitchen and ultimately that is a matter for a judge/jury and or her legal team to sort through and determine.  There was no smoking gun videotape to crystallize the world’s opinion.

There are charges to be adjusted, include getting into a violent altercation with him 17 year-old nephew including breaking a broom over his head and then punching her sister, the boy’s mother, in the face when the sister tried to break it.  If those charges are true, she should be sent to jail as befitting punishment for those crimes.   I don’t care that she is a Hope Solo, America’s Best Goalkeeper or whatever.. if she is a violent thug, she is a violent thug.  Simple… simple… simple…

There is the trick and real issue, nothing, not one damn thing, in domestic violence is simple or black and white.

She is being portrayed in some segments as the same as Ray Rice and given the charges you can very easily make that case.  She is accused of the same crime as he was, punching a female loved one in the face, but she also has additional charges of violence against a minor. Is she then worse than Rice?  Is she been given a pass because we sexistly, as a society, do not consider women to be equally capable of violence and therefore not held to the same standard when they commit acts of violence?

Few, if any people, are talking about the ultimate irony  of Hope’s life…  that less than two years ago… Hope was the Janay Rice.  Hope was engaged to former NFL player Jerramy Stevens when he was accused and arrested for physical assaulting her at a party.   She married him hours later and charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and her refusal to testify.  When I say She was the Janay Rice, I mean down to the emergency marriage to protect her man.  Now does her being a, “victim,” of domestic abuse make her more sympathetic than Ray Rice?

Before I get too involved in this… let me state this emphatically, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT OK.. IN ANY FORM, be it verbal, mental, emotional, physical, sexual or any combination there of..  it is also not cookie-cutter, or cookie-cutter easy to solve.  If you are wondering, no I have no answers to solve the problem.  I just think that different questions should be asked.

Hope has always been, “troubled,” and, “trouble,” depending on your perspective.  She has always been US Soccer’s bad girl: fighting with teammates, defaming the ’91ers, ignoring coaches, and then there is the family drama on the side.  She has been the victim and now the accused perpetrator of intimate violence.  It is typical of Hope’s image .,.. conflicted mess of good and bad, light and dark, right and wrong.

There are real questions that should be asked about Hope and her Captaining of the US Women’s National Team while these criminal charges hang over her.  It is fair to know that until convicted, she is innocent.  I firmly believe that for all persons. It is the cornerstone of our democracy.  She is entitled to that right as well.

What becomes the issue is how do we are the American soccer community deal with this mess most appropriately?  Hope missed national team friendly to attend the party where all this went down.  It potentially was the match that would have broken Briana Scurry’s shut-out record.  She did it later while both captaining the national team and still under indictment.

Today the WWC Qualifying Rooster was announced with Hope as presumptive Starting GK.

 

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After all Uncle Sunil said in a statement recently, “From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the National Team…Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available we will carefully consider it.”
Uncle Sunil is flat out wrong, so is USSF.  

If it were Tim Howard and not Hope Solo, we would not be having this discussion. He would be banned… and NO, I am NOT accusing Tim of any sort of thing. It was just a like for like analogy.

Look I believe in innocent until proven guilty in a Court of law after a fair trial, with every fiber of my being.  I do.  This is not a Court of law… this is the Court of public opinion, the Supreme Court of public perception.  This is teaching young children, both girls and boys that violence committed by women is not as serious or as dangerous as that committed by men.  It is.  It is that simple.  This is the core group of USWNT fans, young, impressionable kids.

What is this teaching boys who are the victims of domestic violence? By the way the estimate is 1 in 14 guys at some point in his life will be the victim of domestic violence, YES VICTIM. That number rises dramatically for homosexual boys and men to 40%. [Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence]

What is it teaching girls who commit those acts?  What about girls who are lesbian and subjected to domestic abuse in their relationships?  
Is is not as serious, as dangerous, as important because the abuser was another female?

The players of the USWNT have been shamefully quite on this subject… shamefully quite.  I give them only the benefit of the doubt in that, I assume they were strongly encouraged/ordered to keep their mouths shut.

Until today when back-up goalkeeper Jillian Loyden retired from international soccer, not one team member spoke out.  Loyden retired and then in the proverbial same breath, called out USSF and its basically unconscionable decision to ignore the Solo situation.   She has a very special reason to be so insistent that USSF gets it collective shit together.  She more than most know that what domestic violence can do… Jillian buried her sister Britton who was (allegedly) murdered by Britton’s fiancé who is still awaiting his murder trial (yes I believe he is innocent as he has not been found guilty).  Jillian wrote an impassioned op-ed piece calling for Hope to be banned..  She is correct, Hope should be banned.  [READ IT NOW]  For more info, you can go to Jillian’s Foundation’s website.

I do not pretend to know all the ins and outs of domestic violence, or how it affects people individually.  I know that Hope has been involved publicly as both a victim and a perpetrator. I do not know if she is guilty; that is for a Court, a judge and jury to determine… this is about representing the United States of America in international soccer, the historical beacon of the Women’s game.  Hope is not the player to do that at this point.

Uncle Sunil Works Ex Co Magic… Hooks America Up… Gets Copa American on FIFA calender

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Look I am not pleased with Sunil… this Hope Solo nonsense is seriously annoying me and his Roger Goodell modeled approach is not helping AT ALL..  I have been attempted to write something on that mess for a week now but I keep getting angrier and angrier, so I stop and go back later…The whole thing has tainted my excitement over the Women’s World Cup and the USWNT to a large extent.  It is a super messy disaster and that needs resolution fast.

 

So we will focus on the  good err,  FLIPPPING AWESOME NEWS that Copa America 2016 made it to FIFA’s calender meaning teams must release players and the US can field a full strength squad against the best possible teams in CONMEBOL and a CONCACAF brethren..”

Per the joint statement by CONMENOL AND CONCACAF and, “With the addition of the tournament to the FIFA Calendar, the historic Copa America Centenario in 2016 is now set to be the most important full national team tournament hosted in the Americas since this year’s FIFA World Cup,” said CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. “We want to thank Fifa, all Confederations and all others involved in the process for their unconditional support in this process making sure that this once in a lifetime celebration was treated with the respect that the players, football fans around the world and participating countries deserve.”
Copa America Centenario Participating Teams:

CONMEBOL
  1. Argentina
  2. Bolivia
  3. Brazil
  4. Chile
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Paraguay
  8. Peru
  9. Uruguay
  10. Venezuela

CONCACAF

1. U.S.A. (Host)

2. Mexico (Seeded)

3. Costa Rica (2014 UNCAF Copa Centroamericana Champion)

4. TBD (2014 CFU Caribbean Cup Champion)

5. TBD (Winner of 2015 Gold Cup –if not one of the already qualified teams, or 2015 Gold Cup Playoff 1 winner)

6. TBD (2015 Gold Cup Playoff winner)

 

 

Fifty Shades of Soccer… Sex and the Game..

My summer post-World Cup recess is coming to an end and time to get back to work of bringing you the important stories from the female perspective.

One of the things I did on my break was power reading the entire Fifty Shades of Grey series (it took a weekend but it is done).  I deserve a medal for that… [Editorial Rant: Can someone PLEASE get E.L. James a flipping thesaurus.  Girl knows like 15 adjectives and used them insistently and incorrectly A LOT…]

Now why do you care about this? Well because one of the things that kept me hanging on, pardon the bondage pun, is that the only stable male influence in the lead female Ana’s life, is her step-father Ray.   Now Ray is salt of the earth, old school guy…  I should mention the story is set in Seattle in 2011 for the most part.  Part of Ray’s characterization being salt of the earth is his love of sports… Only two are covered the Mariners and the Sounders…  Ray is all kinds of obsessed with soccer, European club and his beloved Sounders.

Sadly for Seattle, comic gold for the rest of us, EL James is not a fan…   Seriously, they lose to Real Salt Lake TWICE in the trilogy which spans about 5 months.  They never win.

MLS, however, does win… The series has sold 100 million+ books globally and been translated into 51 languages.  Nothing MLS marketing has done has had the kind of global reach.  Yes I am including the Beckham thing… they paid a lot of money for that mess, he got the vast majority of the money and the new recognition and not sure it reached the same audience: predominately women and soccer moms at that.

The trailer for the film was released less than two weeks ago and it is already the most viewed of 2014 by a WIDE margin.

MLS needs to jump this bandwagon hard…  Many, many, many women hate this story.. god knows it is a horribly written series but it is also a massive way to get new women into the game.

I always described the game as an introduction to my non-inclined girlfriends the same way, “the prettiest boys on the planet, of every flavor you could possibly desire, run for 90 minutes and then all get shirtless and hug at the end.. what is not to love.”

No, by no means do I think that is all there is to the game or that it is a biggest reason to watch.. It is simply the selling point to get ladies to tune-in.  The beauty of the game will seduce them.  Honestly, I have never seen it fail…

Sex and soccer is not exactly a revolutionary concept I grant you, but MLS has never been given this sort of free marketing opportunity.

One of my favorite bringing ladies to MLS programs was DC United’s “Ladies’ Nights,” which have tickets to a game, cocktails, mani/pedis, shopping and player meet-and-greets.  It was a brilliant way to ease women into the game in a way that does not assume women are inferior.  The most important part of it was that it treated female fans as individual fans, not just taxi moms who drive the kids or accessories on the arm of their partners who are actual fans.

DC United said, “we support our female fans… we want more female fans…we support you being girlie and hardcore too” that needs to happen more.  Tying it to a 100 Million+ book series that has already laid the groundwork is the simplest way to do it.

Also we should ALL support Seattle losing as much as possible..  yes? [before the drama.. I am not suggesting a MLS bondage night thing... simply focusing on a highly under-represented segment of the fanbase]

Also producing appear actually designed for women but…I digress on that point.

Annual Invasion of the Best European Clubs in LA… Man Utd Open Training (with Pics)

Every summer LA is invaded by the, “top,” European clubs in preseason training… It has now expanded well beyond LA too.

Currently Manchester United and Real Madrid are training here and the Rangers (Scotland) were here last week.    Last night Man Utd held an open training at the Rose Bowl, where they play the Galaxy tonight.

Tickets were $20 for general admission or $300 for front row and player access for autographs.  That looked like a disorganized, unmitigated mess.

This was either Louis van Gaal’s first or second training session with the team and lord is he lively.  At one point, he was either giving directions during the scrimmage session or working on his required cheer routine for his varsity try-outs.

Additionally, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney are adorable together.. like toddle buddies at preschool.  Very sad that I missed getting a picture of them walking arms around either’s shoulder.  Also  the team goalies look like quads… all same size, shape, coloring.

You can tell it was early, early pre-season training.. everyone seemed rusty

Here are a few pics and the 250+ more can be found at my flickr page.